Sitting with Our Boredom
When is the last time you felt bored? I'm not talking about a fleeting moment of discontent or feeling a bit stuck deciding what to do next. I mean full-on nothing flying through your head or lighting a fire under you -- b o r e d.
It's not a state of being I've experienced much of in the last couple of years, so when I got the chance to sneak away for a few days on my own I was thrilled. I brought several books, two journals, art supplies, podcasts, and a list of shows I wanted to watch. I dabbled in some of my stuff, but I also just plopped down on the bed and stared at the curtains.
My first thought was, "I miss my family. Maybe I should pack up and go home early." I sat with that and even imagined packing up. I waited and the urge to leave passed quickly.
My body didn't really want to go, but it also felt restless with no boundaries.
I often fantasize about the freedom to do whatever I want for as long as I want, yet here I was reckoning with what appears to be a changed heart.
Did I need time alone? YES.
Did I enjoy it? YES.
Do I love being with people? YES.
Do I get homesick quickly? Always have.
It's a luxury to feel bored. My nervous system loved it. I'm beginning to think of all the ways I can invite boredom into my days rather than fixating on rest and self-care.
Bored to Sleep
While I'm on the topic of disclosures...
I think a medical doctor would diagnose me as a narcoleptic. I can't drive long distances or sit through conferences without using every ounce of energy to stay awake, also a boatload of snacks.
When I attend multi-day conferences I book a room at the venue where the event is held. I review the agenda, connect with peers, and mark my nap sessions strategically. I always sit near the back in case I need to stand up, fidget in my seat, or roam the halls.
Turns out many of us have trouble staying awake when we're bored. Our attention system just shuts down altogether. I heard a talk by Dr. John Ratey years ago where he wondered if some of the physical hyperactivity in kids is their body intuitively trying to wake them up.
I've always found creative ways to nap at work.
Book a meeting room, go to your car, lock your office (if you have a door), and now I've got a bed near my desk.
Pretty sure I've spent at least a year's worth of energy trying to stay awake throughout my life. I do not miss being on the clock and feeling pulled into slumber as my conscious brain yells to snap me out of it.
I consider napping one of the kindest things I do for myself some days.
If I only have 15 minutes, I set an alarm and practice a meditative state where I just notice thoughts and push them past in the hopes I'll drift off. It's the only meditation I've ever been good at, TBH.
There is a lot to be said on the topic of sleep and neurodivergent brains, but
we'll save that for another day.
I'm curious -- do you struggle to stay awake when you're bored?
Do you embrace boredom or try to fight it?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.